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Oscar speech spotlights hair discrimination, Wisconsin lawmaker working to ban it with CROWN Act

Posted at 6:26 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 19:26:15-05

An Oscar winner's speech puts the spotlight on hair discrimination. It is a controversial issue that surfaces in cities across the country.

On Hollywood's biggest night, Matthew A. Cherry, the director of "Hair love," used his acceptance speech to advocate for change.

"We wanted to bring representation to animation. We wanted to normalize black hair. There's a very important issue that's out there it's the CROWN Act and if we can help to get this passed in all 50 states it'll help stories like DeAndre Arnold's who's our special guest tonight stop to happen," Cherry said in his few seconds at the microphone.

The CROWN Act stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. It's a proposal aimed at ending hair discrimination by protecting natural hair textures and hairstyles. According to its website, the act has become law in three states and introduced in 22 others, including Wisconsin.

State Representative LaKeshia Myers introduced the act last summer.

"It's being advanced in other states across the nation. It started off as a slow trickle but the drumbeat is growing," said Myers.

The lawmaker says so far the CROWN Act has bipartisan support.

"It doesn't take away anything from cleanliness or any type of anti-hygiene perspective from the employer. What it does is saying yes we understand hair is a racially-based trait but we won't be holding that against you to work here," said Myers.

"A lot of people don't understand. A lot of people don't get it," said Charde Robertson, a cosmetologist at Milwaukee's Exodus Beauty Salon.

Robertson believes the attention to different types of hair serves as a teachable moment.

"It's disappointing it's come to the point it's a conversation. It makes African American men and women feel like they're less and they have to prove themselves even more because of the way they look and it's already an issue," said Robertson.

Currently, the CROWN Act is waiting on a committee vote in Wisconsin.

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